British Steel is proposing to close the coke ovens at its plant in Scunthorpe, with the loss of up to 260 jobs, the company has announced.
This confirms the fears voiced by unions this morning, that the company was planning to cut hundreds of jobs and shutter its coking ovens, which produce the fuel to power its blast furnaces.
The company’s owner, China’s Jingye Group, says the move is partly “to overcome global economic challenges,” and also due to rising costs (such as energy bills).
Jingye says in a statement: “Decisive action is required because of the unprecedented rise in operating costs, surging inflation and the need to improve environmental performance.”
British Steel chief executive Xifeng Han says the company is undergoing the biggest transformation in its 130-year history, and that UK steelmaking ‘remains uncompetitive’ compared to rivals.
Xifeng explains: “Jingye is committed to our long-term future but decarbonisation is a major challenge for our business and, like most companies, we’re facing significant challenges because of the economic slowdown, rising inflation and exceptionally high energy prices.
“For example, last year our energy bill rose by £120 million while we’ve also faced an increase of over £70 million in our annual carbon costs.
“We have taken action to reduce costs within our control; however, steelmaking in the UK remains uncompetitive when compared to other international steelmakers.”
“Our energy costs, carbon costs and labour costs are some of the highest across the world, which are factors that we cannot influence directly.”